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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 E (OR Stingy people justify being stingy.)

 [This is the 15th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: A few facts .. to prove to you that nature has not organized you [Head] for our moral direction. When the poor wearied souldier whom we overtook at Chickahomony with his pack on his back, begged us to let him get up behind our chariot, you began to calculate that the road was full of souldiers, & that if all should be taken up our horses would fail in their journey. We drove on therefore. But soon becoming sensible you had made me do wrong, that tho we cannot relieve all the distressed we should relieve as many as we can, I turned about to take up the souldier; but he had entered a bye path, & was no more to be found; & from that moment to this I could never find him out to ask his forgiveness.

Again, when the poor woman came to ask a charity in Philadelphia, you whispered that she looked like a drunkard, & that half a dollar was enough to give her for the ale-house. Those who want [lack] the dispositions to give, easily find reasons why they ought not to give. When I sought her out afterwards, & did what I should have done at first, you know that she employed the money immediately towards placing her child at school.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Generous leaders listen to their hearts, not their heads.
These two examples are straightforward. In each, with a moral dilemma presented, Jefferson’s Head prevailed at first, with reasons not to help or to do so only sparingly. His Heart later asserted control and tried to rectify the wrongs. One could be corrected. For the other, the opportunity was lost.
Two observations:
1. In the first paragraph, Head reasoned that because they could not help everyone, they should help no one. Heart countered, that even though they could not help everyone, they had a moral obligation to help as many as they could.
2. In the second paragraph, Heart notes that selfish people (“who want [lack] the dispositions to give”) have no trouble justifying their actions (will “easily find reasons why they ought not to give”).

A generous Thomas Jefferson looks forward
to sharing his experiences with your audience.

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 D (OR Yours is yours. Mine is mine. We do not mix well.)

 [This is the 14th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: When nature assigned us [both Head and Heart] the same habitation, she gave us over it a divided empire. To you she allotted the field of science; to me that of morals. When the circle is to be squared, or the orbit of a comet to be traced; when the arch of greatest strength, or the solid of least resistance is to be investigated, take up the problem; it is yours; nature has given me no cognizance of it. In like manner, in denying to you the feelings of sympathy, of benevolence, of gratitude, of justice, of love, of friendship, she has excluded you from their controul. To these she has adapted the mechanism of the heart.

Morals were too essential to the happiness of man to be risked on the incertain combinations of the head. She laid their foundation therefore in sentiment, not in science.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders correctly discern between realms of science and morality.
Jefferson’s Heart freely gave Head total control over anything scientific or mathematic. Nature had decreed it so. Heart had no knowledge of them.

In contrast, nature gave to the Heart alone expressions of love, kindness, justice and friendship, Since these “morals” were necessary for man’s happiness, they were founded “in sentiment, not in science,” in the Heart, not in the Head.

The next post will give two examples of moral issues, involving a battle-worn soldier and a poor woman, where Head stepped out of his territory and told Heart what to do and why. Heart went along and was wrong on both counts. Only one could be corrected.

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 C (OR Hooray for optimistic leaders!)

 [This is the 13th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: In a life where we are perpetually exposed to want & accident, yours [Head’s] is a wonderful proposition, to insulate ourselves, to retire from all aid, & to wrap ourselves in the mantle of self-sufficiency! For assuredly nobody will care for him who care for nobody. But friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life; & thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine…
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Hooray for optimistic leaders!
Jefferson acknowledged Head’s “wonderful proposition,” striving for self-sufficiency as a means of protection from life’s difficulties. One would have to perfect that do-it-yourself mentality, because there would be no help in time of need for one who never helped others.

But friendship was more important than just giving or receiving consolation in times of trouble. Friendship was especially enjoyable “in the sunshine of life,” when there was no trouble. He affirmed, despite our difficulties and sorrows, that “the greater part of life is sunshine.”

Thomas Jefferson will bring sunshine to your audience!
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11 B (OR I need others to share in my sufferings.)

[This is the 12th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart: But let us now try the virtues of your mathematical balance, & as you have put into one scale the burthen of friendship, let me put its comforts into the other. When languishing then under disease, how grateful is the solace of our friends! How are we penetrated with their assiduities [diligence] & attentions! How much are we supported by their encouragements & kind offices! When heaven has taken from us some object of our love, how sweet is it to have a bosom whereon to recline our heads, & into which we may pour the torrent of our tears! Grief, with such a comfort, is almost a luxury!
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Honest leaders need support when they suffer.
Jefferson’s Head advised his Heart to weigh all things, even potential friendships, in a balance of positives vs. negatives and choose only the weightier. Heart found the potential comforts in friendship always of more value than feared hurts or loss.
In the last post, Heart extolled the virtue of the comfort he could give to others in their suffering. Here he reversed it, appreciating the comfort he received from others when he suffered.
Afflictions of disease or great personal loss were easier to bear when others came alongside to console and encourage. Suffering almost (almost!) became a luxury when one had dear friends to share in the burden.

Mr. Jefferson stands ready to inspire hope in your audience.
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 11A (OR It is my pleasure to share another’s pain.)

 [This is the 11th post in a series abstracted from Jefferson’s famous “My Head and My Heart” dialogue written to Maria Cosway. This is part of Heart’s final reply.]

Heart. And what more sublime delight than to mingle tears with one whom the hand of heaven hath smitten! To watch over the bed of sickness, & to beguile its tedious & its painful moments! To share our bread with one to whom misfortune has left none! This world abounds indeed with misery: to lighten its burthen we must divide it with one another.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Compassionate leaders suffer with the suffering.
Jefferson’s emotion-less Head’s final reply asked (paraphrased), “Don’t you have enough suffering of your own without taking on others’?” His Heart replied just the opposite (also paraphrased), “There could not be a greater delight than to suffer with a dear friend.” If he had plenty, he must share with the one who had none.

Heart did agree with Head that there was plenty of misery in the world. Sharing the sadness made it bearable, less overwhelming. It was not optional: “We must divide it [suffering] with one another.”

Mr. Jefferson promises to challenge your audience,
but he will not make them suffer!

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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 10 (OR Is life only a calculated balancing act?)

[This is the “Head” portion only of the 10th and final interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head … Everything in this world is a matter of calculation … Put into one scale the pleasures which any object may offer; but put fairly into the other the pains which are to follow, & see which preponderates … The art of life is the art of avoiding pain: & he is the best pilot who steers clearest of the rocks & shoals with which he is beset …

Our own share of miseries is sufficient: why enter then as volunteers into those of another? Is there so little gall poured into our cup that we must needs help to drink that of our neighbor? A friend dies or leaves us: we feel as if a limb was cut off. He is sick: we must watch over him, & participate of his pains. His fortune is shipwrecked; ours must be laid under contribution. He loses a child, a parent, or a partner: we must mourn the loss as if it were our own.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Beware the leader whose choices are only the paths of least resistance.
This final interchange is by far the longest of the ten, comprising nearly half of the letter. I cannot do justice to it in one post. Jefferson’s Head will get this one post, edited to about 1/4 of what he wrote. Heart’s response was more twice as long and will become the subject of multiple posts.

Head advises caution in all things, always weighing pluses and minuses, with the goal of avoiding pain. Life deals each person enough disappointment of their own. No point in looking for more or helping bear others’ grief.
In an omitted portion, Head commends intellectual pursuits, for no one can take away the pleasures gained there. Those allow one to ride above the “bustle & tumult of society,” occupied by those who are too much guided by their emotions.

The complete Thomas Jefferson, head AND heart, will inspire your audience.
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 9 (OR What characterizes a healthy society?)

[This is the 9th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head. True, you & I know this, but your friends do not know it.

Heart. But they are sensible people who think for themselves. They will ask of impartial foreigners who have been among us whether they saw or heard on the spot any instances of anarchy … [instead, they will learn we are] opening rivers, digging navigable canals, making roads, building public schools, establishing academies, erecting busts & statues to our great men, protecting religious freedom, abolishing sanguinary [bloodthirsty] punishments, reforming & improving our laws in general, they will judge I say for themselves … [and recognize] a people at their ease, whether this is not better evidence of our true state than a London newspaper, hired to lie …
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
These characteristics give citizens hope.
Jefferson’s Head said reports about anarchy in America, printed in London newspapers and copied throughout Europe would repel foreigners, including the Cosways.

Jefferson’s Heart dismissed it all as lies.
Head accepts that but claims the Cosways won’t know the truth.
Heart says they will ask others who’ve been to America. This is the report they will receive from impartial observers, that the people of America are:
1. Improving their infrastructure for travel and commerce
2. Educating their citizens
3. Honoring their leaders
4. Protecting religious freedom
5. Abolishing horrendous laws and reforming laws in general.
The result of this activity is a better life for all, the only antidote necessary for lies spread about America.

Mr. Jefferson will inspire your audience to focus on what’s truly important.
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 8 (OR What makes America exceptional?)

[This is the 8th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head. … another point. When you consider the character which is given of our country by the lying newspapers of … [Europe] … that all Europe is made to believe we are a lawless banditti, in a state of absolute anarchy, cutting one anothers throats, & plundering without distinction, how can you expect that any reasonable creature would venture among us?

Heart. But you & I know that all this is false: that there is not a country on earth where there is greater tranquillity, where the laws are milder, or better obeyed: where every one is more attentive to his own business, or meddles less with that of others: where strangers are better received, more hospitably treated, & with a more sacred respect.
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
American leaders should defend America’s exceptionalism.
Jefferson’s rational Head gave another reason why the Cosway’s would not visit him in America. European newspapers painted the U.S. as a lawless place. Why would anyone come?

Heart dismisses the argument out of hand, claiming more tranquility in America than any other country in the world? Why?
1. Less government intrusion
2.
Since there are fewer laws, citizens more readily comply with them.
3.
Everyone is more attentive to his own affairs and “meddles less” in others.
4.
Strangers are welcome and treated with hospitality and “sacred respect.”

Jefferson considered these four qualities as hallmarks of republican (small r) government.

Thomas Jefferson will encourage your audience with America’s exceptionalism.
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 7

[This is the 7th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure.]

Head. Very well. Suppose then they come back. They are to stay two months, & when these are expired, what is to follow? Perhaps you flatter yourself they may come to America?

Heart. God only knows what is to happen. I see nothing impossible in that supposition. And I see things wonderfully contrived sometimes to make us happy. Where could they find such objects as in America for the exercise of their enchanting art? especially the lady, who paints landscapes so inimirably [inimitably?] …
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders do well to remain optimistic. Part 7
Jefferson’s logical Head has already advised his Heart to forget the Cosways. Even if there is a return visit, it, too, will end. Is Heart so presumptuous to think these European artists would cross the Atlantic just to see him?
Heart replies that it could happen! Sometimes things just work out very well for our happiness.
Heart, using a little logic of its own, cites the grandeur of America and the many scenes awaiting permanent capture by the lady’s paint brush if they did come. (This passage also contains an eloquent and romantic description of Monticello, often reproduced as evidence of Jefferson’s lifetime love of his mountaintop home.)

Jefferson’s presentations are “wonderfully contrived” to make your audience happy!
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Who exactly is in charge here? Part 6

[This is the 6th interchange in Jefferson’s internal dialog between his head and his heart, anguishing over Maria Cosway’s departure. He reported the entire dialog to her in this letter.]

Head. But in the meantime see what you suffer: & their return too depends on so many circumstances that if you had a grain of prudence you would not count upon it. Upon the whole it is improbable & therefore you should abandon the idea of ever seeing them again.
Heart. May heaven abandon me if I do!
To Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Effective leaders learn to balance logic and emotion. Part 6
Jefferson’s rational Head wanted to relieve the suffering of his irrational Heart and warned about all the things that could interrupt Maria’s promise to return. It was unlikely to happen. Since that return could not be counted on, Heart would be wise to “abandon the idea,” move on and end its suffering.

“No!” said Heart. If he abandoned that hope, then heaven should abandon him. It was better to live with a slim hope, even if it meant suffering, than to have no hope at all.

Mr. Jefferson will inspire hope in your audience!
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